Sustainable Schools

Winning with Onsite Generated Solutions

Onsite generated solutions are created by transforming or infusing water to meet the performance requirements of professional cleaning, sanitizing and/or disinfecting, with long-term-value and environmental factors as key uptake and ethical drivers.

Onsite Generated Solutions include, but are not limited to:

  • Electrolysis of Water
  • Aqueous Ozone

Onsite Generated Solutions are effective in the following ways or configurations:

  • Electrolyzed Water — Effectiveness of systems using non-augmented water supplies (e.g., ordinary tap water without mineral or electrolyte additives) varies depending on the system and water source; while electrolysis of augmented water, in which an electrolyte (either generic sodium chloride [NaCl, aka, a pure form of table salt] or a proprietary mineral blend) is added to softened tap water before treatment by electrolysis, creates two substances in separate streams:
    1. A slightly alkaline, highly diluted Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or other hydroxide solution depending on the minerals in the water.
    2. A hypochlorous acid (and other oxidizing agents)-solution that may perform effectively in a pH-neutral to mildly acidic solution to sanitize and, depending on the configuration, disinfect hard surfaces.
  • Aqueous Ozone — Ozone electrically infused into water may provide an effective cleaner, as well as a sanitizer through oxidation at near-neutral pH.

Recommendations

Prospective purchasers of systems should request test data from suppliers and confer with knowledgeable independent persons (e.g., third-party labs, microbiologists, etc.) regarding the meaning and value of test reports before investing in systems.

Ask for EPA Registration information from makers of systems producing solutions that are packaged for use elsewhere or to be sold.

Electrolyzed Water and Aqueous Ozone can be effective interventions for infection prevention when used according to manufacturer directions as part of a systematic approach to facility cleaning and hygiene.

Clearing Up Misconceptions

“Chemical-free” — Use of the term, “chemical-free” is, in the main, incorrect, as the technologies described produce respective chemicals onsite, namely:

  • Liquefied ozone solutions
  • hypochlorous acid solutions
  • sodium hydroxide or other hydroxide solutions based on the minerals in the water

It is misleading to state these devices produce only water. They produce chemicals on site using the building’s water supply.

Proven Efficacy — It is important not to confuse claims for different applications using the same type of technology; as in “the safe use of [engineered water]… as an antimicrobial agent for commercial foodservice applications makes it safe and effective for sanitizing in your facility” by extrapolating a discrete, dedicated industrial use to general cleaning applications when the concentration of the “active” ingredient and many other factors may be different.

Regarding efficacy, ask for independent test data for comparison, and insist on apples-to-apples assessment (same surface types, dwell time, cleaning methods.)

Zero Impact on the Environment — All devices use electricity to generate cleaning chemicals onsite, so while they do avoid the manufacturing, packaging, shipping, storing and handling of conventional packaged chemicals, there is a strong environmental benefit through a “reduced” carbon footprint, not a nonexistent one.

Onsite Generated Solution Systems are Expensive — Not true, especially if your facility buys or uses many standard cleaning, sanitizing or disinfecting products that are replaced. Perhaps the biggest benefit is lower cost. The best systems make effective cleaning solutions for pennies on the gallon — a huge cost savings, while delivering environmental benefits.

This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Allen P. Rathey is an educator specializing in Healthy Facilities. He has assembled an advisory group of dozens of scientists, PhDs, facility and public health experts, who share his passion for helping people everywhere create and maintain safe, healthy, indoor environments. He is past-president of The Housekeeping Channel (HC), The Healthy House Institute (HHI), and The Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI). He is the principal of Winning Environments, LLC, promoting best practices that enhance the living environment. Call him @ 208-724-1508 or email arathey@outlook.com. Allen provides advisory and consulting support, in person, by phone, via published articles, social networks, and through seminars and webinars.

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